Your humble authors ventured out on a day trip to the Black Country Living Museum for the fifth annual festival marking of the women chainmakers' strike of 1910. It was a vitally important victory for the labour movement, which established a trade board that enforced a minimum wage in the chain making industry. Once the principle was established trade boards spread to other industries. It wasn't until Thatcher came in that this important reform was clawed back by the ruling class, which was eventually re-implemented through New Labour's national minimum wage. Because of their victory the take home pay of millions of Britain's most exploited workers improved and strengthened the bargaining position of labour for the best part of a century.
Moving forward to the 99th anniversary celebrated today Brother S and I joined in the festivities (thanks to North Staffs TUC) on what must have been the nicest day of the year. We took a trip down the pit, checked out the newly-built Workers' Institute building (moved brick-by-brick from Cradley Heath), had some fine fish & chips, went on a march, potted about the main museum building and missed speeches and debates in the Left Field union tent (incidentally, why did Bookmarks stall, 'the official book supplier to the TUC' sell titles only from the SWP and no other political party? Just askin').
It's a miracle I avoided sun burn. There were thousands attending so some will be suffering as I write this.
But it was an excellent day. Already it's acquiring a reputation as the West Midland's answer to the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival and the Durham Miners' Gala. I hope next year our TUC takes more of us down (there was eight this time) and that visitors' ranks are filled with trade unionists and socialists from across the country. And who knows, perhaps it would be a good time for an overdue leftie twitter/blogger meet up?